Vandoorne’s victory after Saturday shunt
Redemption was the word for Stoffel Vandoorne on Sunday after the Mercedes EQ driver and ex-McLaren Formula 1 ace endured similar misfortune to Bird – but in reverse.
On Saturday, the Belgian had started from pole position, only to be assaulted early on by a wildly optimistic André Lotterer at the favoured overtaking spot at Turn 7. The gap was never really on for the Porsche driver. Vandoorne dropped to 13th, but got his head down and used a strong Attack Mode strategy to rise back into contention and run fourth in the closing stages. Then disaster struck: di Grassi slowed, Vandoorne moved right to pass the Audi, then was launched into the wall by a manhole cover. To compound his misery, team-mate de Vries couldn’t avoid tagging Vandoorne’s car for a double Mercedes DNF.
The team worked through the night to repair Vandoorne’s car and he repaid them with a decent fourth in the slippery qualifying conditions for Sunday’s round. Ahead of him, Envision Virgin, er, Formula E virgin Nick Cassidy fluffed his pole position advantage by spinning off once the race turned green, after what most felt was an unnecessarily conservative decision to start behind the safety car. Vandoorne passed Venturi’s rookie Norman Nato, then closed in on Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein and took the lead through the Attack Mode cycle, which forces drivers to run off line and pick up 35kW of extra boost. From there, Vandoorne was untouchable and built up a strong lead – which was wiped out in the closing stages when Audi’s René Rast tagged the wall at the final turn, then crashed at the first. The safety car closed up the pack and left Vandoorne with the pressure of one racing lap to complete his victory – aided by a dose of extra Fan Boost power. “This is what we needed yesterday,” he said, “but I guess this makes up for it. It tastes good today.”
The win lifts him directly into title contention. Vandoorne lies fourth in the standings, just 10 points behind Bird and only one behind third-placed Frijns.